In the next few weeks, I’ll be moving to New York City after 17 years in Boston.
When you’ve lived (or worked) somewhere for a while, it’s inevitable that you fall into habits. But with the change, I’m forced to think very deliberately about the people in my day-to-day life.
Who do I want to spend time with? What events should I attend to meet new people?
How can I best keep in touch with my old friends, and — let’s be honest about time constraints — who should I prioritize?
Personally, I think of it as your posse. Who’s in your gang? Who’s got your back? Who’d kill someone for you (metaphorically, of course)?
Too often, the numbers get overwhelming. I’ve got thousands of people I keep in touch with through my e-newsletter or on Twitter, and hundreds of friends and acquaintances in various cities. Sometimes I’ll have a round-up event when I’m in town — casually bringing friends together, like I’m doing in San Francisco on June 9th at my friend Duggan McDonnell’s bar Cantina. (Feel free to join us! And I’ll be in town shooting a CreativeLive workshop, in case you’d like to watch.)
But we also need to pay special attention to the dearest people in our lives – not just our friends, but our best friends (whether they’re literally pals or also clients and customers).
In The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the power of thanking someone not with something generic (though yes, everyone like iTunes gift cards), but something truly unique – an autographed football jersey if they’re a fan, or tickets to a concert you know they’re dying to see. Thoughtful gifts are one way to show our affection, but the one that matters most is time.
I think about my friend Joel Gagne, a busy father and entrepreneur who still makes time to call me and check in when he’s on the road. We’ve had an enduring friendship for more than a decade, largely because of his diligence about keeping in touch, despite his having lived in four different states during that time. It’s easy to lose focus, or treat all our relationships the same, but we shouldn’t.
As consultant Michael Katz told me when I interviewed him for my Forbes blog, the secret to relationship success is segmentation: we need to separate out the people we treasure, and built in protocols so that we never forget to keep in touch.
It could be a tickler file that reminds you to write personal emails to three “A list” contacts per day; it could be monthly lunches or weekly coffees. Whatever the method, we can’t afford to lose sight of our most important relationships, personal or professional.
When you find your posse, you have to earn the right to keep it.